Thursday, January 15, 2009

Touching Stories

What is in a touch?

If you know me, you know how much I like young people. I am very capable of loving other people’s kids as much as I love mine - probably why I love teaching young people. During my teaching years, I especially liked the students who were difficult, or the underdog, or the one the other teachers had problems with – those kids were the ones that needed love and attention. The ones that did everything right were just fine – everyone liked them. No, it was the kids who were outcasts and outlaws, that I found most interesting. Although I am probably not the smartest or the best at English Lit or Grammar, I was a good teacher, because I cared for the kids. But every once in a while, a kid would come along that I had a difficult time liking. Abhor might be a good word for what I felt. It might be their attitude toward me, sometimes physical appearances played a part, or maybe it was a spiritual thing, but there were some students (just a few) that I really disliked. The few times this happened, I found it difficult to even want to be near the young person, but I refused to give into such feelings. I worked at liking all my students no matter what. I figured there was a mother who loved the kid, and so could I, but it did take work. I would start by standing near the kid during class. Then came the touch. I would make myself touch the young person – maybe a pat on the back or just a brush of the arm as I helped them with their work. It was amazing what touch could do. Soon I found that the repulsiveness I felt would fade away. My attitude would change and so would the student’s. A simple touch was a big factor.

Another touch story:
One time Toby and I were attending Aspencade, a fall arts and crafts festival in Red River. These events always brought people out of the woodwork. I happen to see two people who worked together, but were not a couple, standing together – nothing unusual about that. The lady was recently divorced. The man was in a longtime "live-in" relationship with another woman. But then the lady put her hand on the man’s shoulder and leaned over and whispered something to the man. She pointed at something going on and they both laughed. It was nothing – a simple gesture. It was everything. I turned to Toby and said, "Oh my gosh, they are a couple!" Toby gave me the "you don’t know that for sure so keep your mouth shut and don’t start any rumors." He was right, but there was something in the way the lady touched the man’s shoulder. The next week, it all came out without me saying a word. The man left his live-in lady-friend and moved in with the new lady. The touch gave it away.

Still another story:
When Jesse was about ten years old, she played soccer in Questa where we lived. I was sitting in the car watching soccer practice one afternoon. The kids were all lined up down the field waiting their turn to dribble the ball down the field and shoot at the goal. There was a kid behind Jesse who kept poking her, teasing her, and just generally messing with her while they stood in line. I was kind of worried about Jes, but then she turned and caught the kid's hand in her hand and bent him back to the ground. It was fast and furious and did wonders. The kid quit messing with her. She obviously had the right touch.

One more:
The other day, I saw one of Jesse’s young men touch her. It was a silly, friendly punch-to-the-shoulder-like-thing while they were laughing at some joke. But I knew it was more than that, and I thought, "Beware the touch! She will take you down."

I could go on and on with my touch stories. It is amazing what the human touch can do.


inpassing said...
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Towanda said...

Hi Lou.

~~off topic~~ I added you as a friend on Facebook, so if you see a name you don't recognize (Sharon H--------) It's me!

Towanda said...

Lou, I love your touch stories, every one of them. I laughed at the one about Jesse taking the tormentor down. LOL

I am a touchy person too. It just comes naturally to some of us. Here is one of my touch stories:

As a nurse for my entire adult life, I always touched my patients and hugged them and held the ones who were going through the worst things; it was just part of who I was and part of my nursing care. A few years ago we had to attend a mandatory lecture on privacy and sexual harassment, and one thing on the list of "no nos" had become a reminder that we were not allowed to invade the privacy of our patients by touching them. I laughed out loud, and told the teacher the day they told me I as a nurse could no longer touch my patients was the day I would hang up my stethoscope and walk away.

I realize there is inappropriate touching in our society, but things have gone way to the other side when we are no longer ever allowed to touch or hug someone. It's a real hot button issue with me.

Thanks for your post.

The Friendly Neighborhood Piper said...

that was...touching.

Dale said...

Wow, Lou when I started reading this I immediately thought of your mother. One, for her love of children and two, for her touch. She had a way of letting a child that felt very unlovable sometimes, very loved. She always had a hug waiting for me when I would make my way to your house. A touch can mean the difference between life and death sometimes.

You've got your mother's heart Lou, and that's a very good thing!

Buck said...

I could go on and on with my touch stories. It is amazing what the human touch can do.

Great stories, each and every one. I think we all know... instinctively ...about the power of touch. Sharon's nurse training story re-enforces that, as does your student story, Lou.

Becky said...

Some people just don't like being touched. I am one of them. I don't like people putting their hands on me--especially people I don't know that well, or those I wouldn't consider as friends--like a teacher or a nurse. I don't even like it in church when they have that "Stand up and shake everybody's hand" moment.

In fact, one way you can know you've arrived in my "inner circle" is if you touch me and I let you live.

Jo Castillo said...

Well, Becky, I'm a hugger, but I don't like being touched if I don't see it coming. In fifth grade I was arguing with a girl behind me for pulling my hair. The teacher came up beside me and slapped me on the leg. I slapped her leg back without even looking to see who it was! I got a spanking in the office. Ouch! You still better not sneak up and poke me. My grandkids had to learn. Ha.

Good for Jesse! Nice stories, bag blog. So true, my Mom was a hugger, too. :)

Bag Blog said...

Towanda, I can't imagine a nurse not being able to touch her patients. It seems like there was a study done once of new born babies and how being held or touched made a big difference in how well they did.

Jo, I'm not really a hugger, although hugging is good. Sometimes just a casual touch is all it takes - but I will be careful never to poke you :)

Dale, you were very special to my mother. She didn't just love every kid that we brought home.

Piper, you always crack me up.

Becky, Some people are just more private than others. Touch depends a lot on who is doing the touching. Those students that I had problems with, well, it took time and patience before I actually touched them - like a spirited horse needs to trust you.

Buck, I think I gave you a hug when we met. Toby gave you a good squeeze too:)

Towanda said...

Just to clarify - as a nurse, I didn't go around touching and hugging all my patients. Part of the art of nursing was learning how to know which patients would welcome touch and which would not.

Bob said...

My family wasn't touchy. I remember as a teenager that my mom once kissed my dad (something I'd never seen -- though of course I suspected there was something going on between them since I was one of eight kids). Anyhoo, my youngest sister, got wide-eyed and gasped, "Mom kissed Dad." My big brother Roy, just looked over at her and drolely answered, "It's okay, Barbara, They're married."

Anyway, I've made it a point to show affection for Joyce in front of our three sons. Even though they're now all taller than I am, they still hug me. Touch can be good.